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On the same day that the SFMTA sent out a press release announcing the closure of the Montgomery Muni Station ticket sales booth as of 8 PM on February 3, Appeal staff and readers are reporting that the employees of that sales booth are encouraging riders to oppose that move.

According to the MTA’s release,

Starting Jan. 27, the SFMTA will deploy Service Ambassadors at the station during peak commute hours to let customers know about the closing, answer questions and direct customers to alternative sales locations. In an effort to make customers’ commutes easier, the SFMTA encourages all Muni customers to switch to TransLink.

The encouraged switch to TransLink is about more than just ease of commute, however. MTA spokesperson Judson True told the Appeal that “one of the reasons for TransLink adoption is the cost savings it can provide,” including cuts in staffing made possible by the streamlining of methods of payment.

TransLink didn’t come up when Appeal staffer Katie Doze went to the imperiled counter to replace demagnetized ticket this morning. She reports that the Muni employee staffing the ticket booth directed her to a petition and said “They’re closing this booth, do you want to sign a petition asking them to keep it open? We want to end this right away.”

When Doze asked them what her alternatives were in the future, TransLink was not mentioned. Instead, another employee at the booth said “They have not planned on that. I guess you’ll have to find another place where they sell and exchange.”

Doze also says the workers informed her that after February 3, they’d be out of jobs due to the closure, and that she should “call 311 and voice a complaint to help with the cause.” Another Appeal reader tells us that “the ticket booth guys were chanting ‘311, 311’ when I asked them what my alternatives were.”

True confirms that some of the employees of the closing booth might be laid off, saying that “we take no pleasure in these terrible budget conditions.”

When we asked if Muni employees soliciting riders was an accepted practice, True said “clearly, that’s not something they should be doing on city time.” When we asked if any amount of rider or employee protests could prevent this cut — in other words, if these employees imprecations were for naught — True refused to speculate.

Though it seems that Muni employees aren’t always making passengers aware of the TransLink alternative, customers will still get the Green Card Message on January 28 and Feb. 1, when TL reps will be working the station from 7-10 AM and 4-7 PM. According to a release sent by the MTA, they’ll be passing out free TL cards (ordinarily they’re $5) and answering rider questions.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • kl2real

    I never feel bad for belligerent soon-to-be-jobless Muni employees who are the scum of the earth on a good day. (In fact, it seems like a little victory.) However, I do feel bad for the transit-riding public who are having yet another service cut imposed on them while further plans are made to slash service on every route and, again, increase fares.

    As for TransLink, or whatever they’re going to call it, it’s a great concept. It’s just that it’s often slow to respond or non-responsive. I’ve been held hostage at the gates countless times. It will ultimately end up slowing down the whole system.

    While I’m at it, what’s up with the big Friday night slowdowns in the tunnel when the fare stasi are checking everyone’s passes as West Portal, leaving tunnel traffic jammed all the way back to the Embarcadero? I don’t mind them checking fares, but holding every train at the station to check every departing passenger at Friday night rush hour punishes the innocent majority who, like myself, pay their fares.

    Can’t wait for them to set up toll pass-throughs in downtown and late night parking meters. You figure at some point, the public will finally revolt and put Nate and Gavin out to pasture.

    There, I feel much better now.

  • kl2real

    I never feel bad for belligerent soon-to-be-jobless Muni employees who are the scum of the earth on a good day. (In fact, it seems like a little victory.) However, I do feel bad for the transit-riding public who are having yet another service cut imposed on them while further plans are made to slash service on every route and, again, increase fares.

    As for TransLink, or whatever they’re going to call it, it’s a great concept. It’s just that it’s often slow to respond or non-responsive. I’ve been held hostage at the gates countless times. It will ultimately end up slowing down the whole system.

    While I’m at it, what’s up with the big Friday night slowdowns in the tunnel when the fare stasi are checking everyone’s passes as West Portal, leaving tunnel traffic jammed all the way back to the Embarcadero? I don’t mind them checking fares, but holding every train at the station to check every departing passenger at Friday night rush hour punishes the innocent majority who, like myself, pay their fares.

    Can’t wait for them to set up toll pass-throughs in downtown and late night parking meters. You figure at some point, the public will finally revolt and put Nate and Gavin out to pasture.

    There, I feel much better now.

  • Greg Dewar

    Keep in mind one of the budget cutty things they want to do is charge you an extra fee if you buy anything or pay anything IN PERSON at the MTA “Customer” service center. Don’t forget that if you pay that parking ticket online, you also get a “Convenience Charge.”

    They get you coming and going. Also, private vendors of Muni passes don’t make any money off the sale – and they have to do all sorts of paperwork. Many retailers have ceased selling them, particularly smaller neighborhood places. I’ve talked to several in the Inner Sunset and they all say the process isn’t very fun, but they keep the service only because it does help draw in customers who might buy a bottle of beer or vodka to salve the pain of a 100 dollar Muni Fast Pass…

  • Greg Dewar

    Keep in mind one of the budget cutty things they want to do is charge you an extra fee if you buy anything or pay anything IN PERSON at the MTA “Customer” service center. Don’t forget that if you pay that parking ticket online, you also get a “Convenience Charge.”

    They get you coming and going. Also, private vendors of Muni passes don’t make any money off the sale – and they have to do all sorts of paperwork. Many retailers have ceased selling them, particularly smaller neighborhood places. I’ve talked to several in the Inner Sunset and they all say the process isn’t very fun, but they keep the service only because it does help draw in customers who might buy a bottle of beer or vodka to salve the pain of a 100 dollar Muni Fast Pass…

  • PhilD

    So I guess I’ll be getting one of those green things now, eh?

    As for the MUNI employees, I’m going to take a break from my normally pro-worker, pro-union attitude and say we should fire the whole lot of them and start interviewing replacements today. Otherwise, we’ll just keep seeing service cuts and fare increases until the day a fast pass costs $200 and the only bus running is the 38.

  • PhilD

    So I guess I’ll be getting one of those green things now, eh?

    As for the MUNI employees, I’m going to take a break from my normally pro-worker, pro-union attitude and say we should fire the whole lot of them and start interviewing replacements today. Otherwise, we’ll just keep seeing service cuts and fare increases until the day a fast pass costs $200 and the only bus running is the 38.

  • Akit

    At least buying a Muni pass with my TransLink card is convenient. Every metro station has at least two machines and can take both cash and credit cards with no surcharges. Plus, it’s rare to find vendors where I can buy a Muni pass with a Commuter Check Card, those TransLink automated machines makes it so easy.

    kl2real: Most complaints with the reliability of TransLink is usually due to user error. Many transit agencies around the world gets tons of complaints of their RFID cards “not working,” but when analyzing the allegations, it’s typically user error.

  • Akit

    At least buying a Muni pass with my TransLink card is convenient. Every metro station has at least two machines and can take both cash and credit cards with no surcharges. Plus, it’s rare to find vendors where I can buy a Muni pass with a Commuter Check Card, those TransLink automated machines makes it so easy.

    kl2real: Most complaints with the reliability of TransLink is usually due to user error. Many transit agencies around the world gets tons of complaints of their RFID cards “not working,” but when analyzing the allegations, it’s typically user error.

  • Eve Batey

    Akit, can you provide a link or other evidence to back up “Most complaints with the reliability of TransLink is usually due to user error.”? I have asked several local spokespeople about this, and a TransLink rep himself, and they dispute that statement.

    It’s far more likely, they say, that the lack of overall TL faregates (which is expected to be resolved with the new gate installation later this year) is responsible for the delays kl2real is experiencing. The current setup’s just a stopgap, and an imperfect one from both a traffic flow and a technological standpoint.

    However, if you have evidence to the contrary, I’d love to see it!

  • Eve Batey

    Akit, can you provide a link or other evidence to back up “Most complaints with the reliability of TransLink is usually due to user error.”? I have asked several local spokespeople about this, and a TransLink rep himself, and they dispute that statement.

    It’s far more likely, they say, that the lack of overall TL faregates (which is expected to be resolved with the new gate installation later this year) is responsible for the delays kl2real is experiencing. The current setup’s just a stopgap, and an imperfect one from both a traffic flow and a technological standpoint.

    However, if you have evidence to the contrary, I’d love to see it!

  • Adam Engelhart

    I work near the Montgomery station, so I may take them up on the free TransLink cards, but I’m not switching over or paying a cent for it until TransLink is at least as reliable and universal as a paper Fast Pass. I’m all in favor of using advanced technology, but TransLink isn’t “advanced technology” as long as there are Muni vehicles (or BART trains within the City) that I can board with a paper Fast Pass but not TransLink. There’s no advancement there, and indeed there is its opposite–new technology should open new doors, not close them off.

    Seriously, guys. Get reliable readers (virtually every global city has managed it by now) and maybe some Velcro straps to put them on the cable cars (I could probably make these for $25/car, and I’m padding the estimate a lot), and you’re good. If the reader goes out, you’re no worse off than when you are when the current Muni driver waves everyone aboard because the farebox is broken, and that happens about once or twice a month in my experience.

  • Adam Engelhart

    I work near the Montgomery station, so I may take them up on the free TransLink cards, but I’m not switching over or paying a cent for it until TransLink is at least as reliable and universal as a paper Fast Pass. I’m all in favor of using advanced technology, but TransLink isn’t “advanced technology” as long as there are Muni vehicles (or BART trains within the City) that I can board with a paper Fast Pass but not TransLink. There’s no advancement there, and indeed there is its opposite–new technology should open new doors, not close them off.

    Seriously, guys. Get reliable readers (virtually every global city has managed it by now) and maybe some Velcro straps to put them on the cable cars (I could probably make these for $25/car, and I’m padding the estimate a lot), and you’re good. If the reader goes out, you’re no worse off than when you are when the current Muni driver waves everyone aboard because the farebox is broken, and that happens about once or twice a month in my experience.

  • kl2real

    Yes akit, I’m a poorly educated idiot from a farm in the provinces who doesn’t know how to use a TV remote control, much less a fancy shmancy TransLink card. (Damn, I hoped you died out in the cold over Christmas like the little match girl. Actually, the thought made my Christmas happy and memorable.)

    In reality, I’m reporting my own experience. I’ve also patiently stood behind many people who have the exact same experience. We just smile at each other as the train doors below us close up and leave the station. If you have some data to back up your “user error” assertion, then present it. Oh, but this page “http://www.akit.org/2009/08/solutions-to-when-translink-doesnt-work.html” won’t be sufficient. *snicker* I’m with Eve on this one. Where’s the beef? and What’s your beef? (I’d say you’re better off sticking to amateur photography and sleeping in. Stick with you strengths!)

  • kl2real

    Yes akit, I’m a poorly educated idiot from a farm in the provinces who doesn’t know how to use a TV remote control, much less a fancy shmancy TransLink card. (Damn, I hoped you died out in the cold over Christmas like the little match girl. Actually, the thought made my Christmas happy and memorable.)

    In reality, I’m reporting my own experience. I’ve also patiently stood behind many people who have the exact same experience. We just smile at each other as the train doors below us close up and leave the station. If you have some data to back up your “user error” assertion, then present it. Oh, but this page “http://www.akit.org/2009/08/solutions-to-when-translink-doesnt-work.html” won’t be sufficient. *snicker* I’m with Eve on this one. Where’s the beef? and What’s your beef? (I’d say you’re better off sticking to amateur photography and sleeping in. Stick with you strengths!)

  • Akit

    Eve:

    Here’s an explanation of what I consider to be “user error:”
    Many complain of problems with the TransLink program and there are two types of issues, people failing to comply with instructions on how to properly use and care for their card/account, and problems that are the transit agency and TransLink’s fault.

    For the card user, they don’t tag their card properly to the reader. A user must not swipe their card, or move it around within the card sensor region. It’s just hold the card steady on the sensor until the green light and beep is given. It’s the most common reason that I describe as “user error.”

    Other types of problems that may be the user’s fault could be a broken card (hole punching the TL card is just as bad a putting a BART ticket next to a cell phone), and a TL account not in good standing such as card is in a negative balance.

    But when there is a problem, that’s because I can easily notice that it’s the transit agency or TransLink’s fault. Generally, it’s because of a malfunction with the software or hardware. A solid red, all colors lit at once, or the reader completely turned-off (no power) are tell tale signs of a problem and as members of the public, we have a responsibility to notify the agency responsible to get it fixed.

    I understand you want documentation or some other type of proof to support this, and I can only provide you the YouTube videos showing how to properly tag on vehicles and stations: http://tinyurl.com/translinkyoutube

    All of what I write on my blog and other areas is all based on my observations when I ride the buses and trains. When a card reader is operating at normal status (can accept fares) and my TransLink account is in good standing, it always works. I see other users boarding the same bus I’m riding and having trouble, but just an extra second of patience and holding the card steady works perfectly.

    I do agree on the problems with the metro faregates. The current setup has very few gates available for entry (except for the main gates at Powell and Montgomery) and they are trying to work modern technology with gates that are over 20 years old and falling apart. They tend to have a really bad flaw; just a week ago, I tagged my card at the gate, got the OK, and the gate didn’t unlock. That was the first time after using various entry gates about 50 times without an issue. With all these budget problems, it’s now when they will start installing the new gates and ticketing machines.

  • Akit

    Eve:

    Here’s an explanation of what I consider to be “user error:”
    Many complain of problems with the TransLink program and there are two types of issues, people failing to comply with instructions on how to properly use and care for their card/account, and problems that are the transit agency and TransLink’s fault.

    For the card user, they don’t tag their card properly to the reader. A user must not swipe their card, or move it around within the card sensor region. It’s just hold the card steady on the sensor until the green light and beep is given. It’s the most common reason that I describe as “user error.”

    Other types of problems that may be the user’s fault could be a broken card (hole punching the TL card is just as bad a putting a BART ticket next to a cell phone), and a TL account not in good standing such as card is in a negative balance.

    But when there is a problem, that’s because I can easily notice that it’s the transit agency or TransLink’s fault. Generally, it’s because of a malfunction with the software or hardware. A solid red, all colors lit at once, or the reader completely turned-off (no power) are tell tale signs of a problem and as members of the public, we have a responsibility to notify the agency responsible to get it fixed.

    I understand you want documentation or some other type of proof to support this, and I can only provide you the YouTube videos showing how to properly tag on vehicles and stations: http://tinyurl.com/translinkyoutube

    All of what I write on my blog and other areas is all based on my observations when I ride the buses and trains. When a card reader is operating at normal status (can accept fares) and my TransLink account is in good standing, it always works. I see other users boarding the same bus I’m riding and having trouble, but just an extra second of patience and holding the card steady works perfectly.

    I do agree on the problems with the metro faregates. The current setup has very few gates available for entry (except for the main gates at Powell and Montgomery) and they are trying to work modern technology with gates that are over 20 years old and falling apart. They tend to have a really bad flaw; just a week ago, I tagged my card at the gate, got the OK, and the gate didn’t unlock. That was the first time after using various entry gates about 50 times without an issue. With all these budget problems, it’s now when they will start installing the new gates and ticketing machines.

  • Alex Zepeda

    @Akit — I’ve used EZ-Rider, TransLink and the Oyster card. So far the TransLink readers have more consistently given me more trouble. It’s worth noting that my TL card is older and more used than the other two. With the EZ-Rider I barely even slowed down to tag the card on the parking fee machine. With Oyster I barely slowed my gait as I boarded one of them nifty double deckers. On the tube the little flappy fare gates (hey, how about those as a more reliable solution, BART?) open almost as soon as I pass my card over the reader.

    With TL I have to stop and wait for it to read. When a fare cop comes along to check my proof of payment, nine times out of ten (well, more often than that) they see the card and move on to an easier target. I’ve only had one fare cop in the past two or three months bother to check my TL card. Why? Because the handheld TL readers take forever to read the cards. I’ve gotta pull the card out of my wallet to wave it at the fare cops, so it’s not like there’s anything on my end preventing the cards from being read quickly.

    IMO BART had the right idea with EZ-Rider. Give the user a protective case for the card. With TransLink this would hopefully preserve the card enough so that you could return it and the MTA could reuse it… and thus make it easier and cheaper for tourists to acquire a TL card for a short period of time.

    RFID cars (even TL) are big step in the right direction… but TL was implemented pretty poorly IMO.

    P.S. I hope I’m not the only one who found the Hertz Rent-A-Car ads on this article amusing.

  • Alex Zepeda

    @Akit — I’ve used EZ-Rider, TransLink and the Oyster card. So far the TransLink readers have more consistently given me more trouble. It’s worth noting that my TL card is older and more used than the other two. With the EZ-Rider I barely even slowed down to tag the card on the parking fee machine. With Oyster I barely slowed my gait as I boarded one of them nifty double deckers. On the tube the little flappy fare gates (hey, how about those as a more reliable solution, BART?) open almost as soon as I pass my card over the reader.

    With TL I have to stop and wait for it to read. When a fare cop comes along to check my proof of payment, nine times out of ten (well, more often than that) they see the card and move on to an easier target. I’ve only had one fare cop in the past two or three months bother to check my TL card. Why? Because the handheld TL readers take forever to read the cards. I’ve gotta pull the card out of my wallet to wave it at the fare cops, so it’s not like there’s anything on my end preventing the cards from being read quickly.

    IMO BART had the right idea with EZ-Rider. Give the user a protective case for the card. With TransLink this would hopefully preserve the card enough so that you could return it and the MTA could reuse it… and thus make it easier and cheaper for tourists to acquire a TL card for a short period of time.

    RFID cars (even TL) are big step in the right direction… but TL was implemented pretty poorly IMO.

    P.S. I hope I’m not the only one who found the Hertz Rent-A-Car ads on this article amusing.

  • Alex Zepeda

    @Adam — That argument is, from my end, mostly a non-starter. All BART stations have TL readers. The ones at Montgomery just got upgraded. BART to MUNI transfers also work seamlessly with TL. If you don’t have a fast pass, you get the $0.25 or so off of a MUNI far after using it on BART. Plus if you have e-Cash and a FastPass your TL card works seamlessly. Use it on BART within the city and ride for ‘free’. Use it beyond the city and it’ll deduct the appropriate fare. Try that with a FastPass.

    The only vehicles that simply won’t let you on with a TL card are the cable cars. I’ve yet to come across a bus driver or fare cop who will insist upon cash payment if the TL readers aren’t working.

  • Alex Zepeda

    @Adam — That argument is, from my end, mostly a non-starter. All BART stations have TL readers. The ones at Montgomery just got upgraded. BART to MUNI transfers also work seamlessly with TL. If you don’t have a fast pass, you get the $0.25 or so off of a MUNI far after using it on BART. Plus if you have e-Cash and a FastPass your TL card works seamlessly. Use it on BART within the city and ride for ‘free’. Use it beyond the city and it’ll deduct the appropriate fare. Try that with a FastPass.

    The only vehicles that simply won’t let you on with a TL card are the cable cars. I’ve yet to come across a bus driver or fare cop who will insist upon cash payment if the TL readers aren’t working.

  • Akit

    I agree that BART for TL is slow in responding. It’s the type of technology used.

    EZ Rider’s RFID card is based on Cubic’s technology, the same supplier that manufactured the BART gates. Since the technology is all the same, it meant a quick response and easy tech support.

    TL runs on ERG and Cubic bought out ERG and worked on a patchwork solution for TL to be available for BART. It’s like hammering a square peg into a round hole; Cubic had to file down the round hole so that the square peg can fit. While the peg now fits, it still needs to be filed down a little more.

    From what I’ve read over the TL management minutes on the MTC’s website, TL is looking to replace the existing cards with the combination RFID and contact chip, and replace them with just the RFID card (no chip). Since Cubic bought out ERG, it seems likely that Cubic’s cards will be the new replacements. This also is in combination with Cubic’s intention to replace Muni’s fare gates and install new ticketing machines at metro stations so they can be 100% Cubic RFID technology all the way. However, I find it unlikely that TL and Cubic will replace the ERG card readers on buses and station platforms because they’ve invested into those items and reinvested by upgrading the memory (there’s a white sticker on the right side of the readers).

  • Akit

    I agree that BART for TL is slow in responding. It’s the type of technology used.

    EZ Rider’s RFID card is based on Cubic’s technology, the same supplier that manufactured the BART gates. Since the technology is all the same, it meant a quick response and easy tech support.

    TL runs on ERG and Cubic bought out ERG and worked on a patchwork solution for TL to be available for BART. It’s like hammering a square peg into a round hole; Cubic had to file down the round hole so that the square peg can fit. While the peg now fits, it still needs to be filed down a little more.

    From what I’ve read over the TL management minutes on the MTC’s website, TL is looking to replace the existing cards with the combination RFID and contact chip, and replace them with just the RFID card (no chip). Since Cubic bought out ERG, it seems likely that Cubic’s cards will be the new replacements. This also is in combination with Cubic’s intention to replace Muni’s fare gates and install new ticketing machines at metro stations so they can be 100% Cubic RFID technology all the way. However, I find it unlikely that TL and Cubic will replace the ERG card readers on buses and station platforms because they’ve invested into those items and reinvested by upgrading the memory (there’s a white sticker on the right side of the readers).

  • generic

    While everyone on the thread raises some good points, I think I speak for the majority of San Franciscans when I invite the fine upstanding employees of the Municipal Transportation Agency to suck my dick.

    Hate u.

  • generic

    While everyone on the thread raises some good points, I think I speak for the majority of San Franciscans when I invite the fine upstanding employees of the Municipal Transportation Agency to suck my dick.

    Hate u.

  • kl2real

    So basically, Akit confirmed my report that there is something wrong with the sensors. I’ve only been reporting that for several months, so it’s nice you finally came to. (I guess you got your nap?) I have also had Alex’s experience of fare stasi avoidance of the card. Several times, they didn’t even know what it was. Fine with me. I hate those pricks anyway, and I always pay my fare. Bring it on ass-wipes.

    All said, the topic of the story was the miserable Muni wretches at Montgomery Station. Soon they’ll be laid off and the world will be a happier place. Can’t happen soon enough! I completely share generic’s sentiments.

  • kl2real

    So basically, Akit confirmed my report that there is something wrong with the sensors. I’ve only been reporting that for several months, so it’s nice you finally came to. (I guess you got your nap?) I have also had Alex’s experience of fare stasi avoidance of the card. Several times, they didn’t even know what it was. Fine with me. I hate those pricks anyway, and I always pay my fare. Bring it on ass-wipes.

    All said, the topic of the story was the miserable Muni wretches at Montgomery Station. Soon they’ll be laid off and the world will be a happier place. Can’t happen soon enough! I completely share generic’s sentiments.

  • Belgand

    While I support Translink (well, a functional Translink, unlike the one where the readers are turned off a third of the time) and use it for all of my transit it’s still problematic with Commuter Checks. Everything else is fine to pay online quickly and conveniently or set up automatic payments, but because Commuter Checks is still shackled to the antiquated technology of little paper vouchers (kind of like Muni in a lot of ways…) you still have to go in to a physical store to exchange them. Under this sort of system what’s the impetus to move to Translink? Hell, my girlfriend uses Muni and BART every day to commute over to Oakland and she still finds a combination of a paper FastPass and high-value BART tickets to not only be equally convenient, but a better value.

    We need to attack this problem from all sides and find methods that actually remove the obvious barriers to acceptance as opposed to just decreasing service across the board.

    It reminds me of when Muni removed stops from the 21 recently. Despite the constant messages of service changes there was absolutely no sign on the website about the changes to stops along the current route, just the broader change in route. They posted some signs along the street, but the read more like planning documents and rather than clearly listing stops changing just listed changes in where they were painting the curb in a fairly specific and technical manner. A week or so before the change they came by and pulled up and removed the shelters from the few stops nearby that actually had them. The only awareness they did for the actual changes (aside from the loss of shelters) was in putting people on the bus and placing signs up on the day the changes went into effect… long after the point that people should have been notified. While it was a move that needed to be done (stopping at every single corner was ludicrous) they failed to remove enough stops along the route to actually improve anything and, previous stated, they chose to junk the shelters leaving us with noticeably decreased service.

    All of these actions feel like they were made by disorganized bodies without proper communication and scant information that fail to actually test and utilize these services themselves.

  • Belgand

    While I support Translink (well, a functional Translink, unlike the one where the readers are turned off a third of the time) and use it for all of my transit it’s still problematic with Commuter Checks. Everything else is fine to pay online quickly and conveniently or set up automatic payments, but because Commuter Checks is still shackled to the antiquated technology of little paper vouchers (kind of like Muni in a lot of ways…) you still have to go in to a physical store to exchange them. Under this sort of system what’s the impetus to move to Translink? Hell, my girlfriend uses Muni and BART every day to commute over to Oakland and she still finds a combination of a paper FastPass and high-value BART tickets to not only be equally convenient, but a better value.

    We need to attack this problem from all sides and find methods that actually remove the obvious barriers to acceptance as opposed to just decreasing service across the board.

    It reminds me of when Muni removed stops from the 21 recently. Despite the constant messages of service changes there was absolutely no sign on the website about the changes to stops along the current route, just the broader change in route. They posted some signs along the street, but the read more like planning documents and rather than clearly listing stops changing just listed changes in where they were painting the curb in a fairly specific and technical manner. A week or so before the change they came by and pulled up and removed the shelters from the few stops nearby that actually had them. The only awareness they did for the actual changes (aside from the loss of shelters) was in putting people on the bus and placing signs up on the day the changes went into effect… long after the point that people should have been notified. While it was a move that needed to be done (stopping at every single corner was ludicrous) they failed to remove enough stops along the route to actually improve anything and, previous stated, they chose to junk the shelters leaving us with noticeably decreased service.

    All of these actions feel like they were made by disorganized bodies without proper communication and scant information that fail to actually test and utilize these services themselves.

  • Eve Batey

    Belgand — my understanding is that one can request that ones commuter checks be transferred directly to one’s TL card electronically, is that not the case? Let me know and I’ll follow up.

  • Eve Batey

    Belgand — my understanding is that one can request that ones commuter checks be transferred directly to one’s TL card electronically, is that not the case? Let me know and I’ll follow up.

  • Akit

    You make some excellent points Belgand.

    I feel TL is disorganized and doesn’t tell people enough information to let them have a problem free experience. I try to help fill-in the gap by providing useful information about the TL program, including explaining why there’s a 72 hour delay when adding funds online. I get a lot of credit for my work, but it’s even more amusing to see TL officials on their Facebook page referring to my blog entries.

    One really cool feature being debated with the TL management board is a type of day pass where if you charge so much to your card in one day, the rest of the rides are free for the day. It would work by having all the agencies participate in a type of regional day pass.

    Belgand: Are you able to switch from the Commuter Check paper vouchers to one of their debit cards? If so, you can then use the funds at TL’s automated machines or certain transit agency ticket offices (call them first). In person transactions gives you instant funding to your card without the waiting period. If you still have to use vouchers, contact the transit agency you use TL and ask if their main ticket office will accept the vouchers in exchange for TL products or e-cash. I know for sure the vouchers are accepted for TL media at the AC Transit ticket office.

  • Akit

    You make some excellent points Belgand.

    I feel TL is disorganized and doesn’t tell people enough information to let them have a problem free experience. I try to help fill-in the gap by providing useful information about the TL program, including explaining why there’s a 72 hour delay when adding funds online. I get a lot of credit for my work, but it’s even more amusing to see TL officials on their Facebook page referring to my blog entries.

    One really cool feature being debated with the TL management board is a type of day pass where if you charge so much to your card in one day, the rest of the rides are free for the day. It would work by having all the agencies participate in a type of regional day pass.

    Belgand: Are you able to switch from the Commuter Check paper vouchers to one of their debit cards? If so, you can then use the funds at TL’s automated machines or certain transit agency ticket offices (call them first). In person transactions gives you instant funding to your card without the waiting period. If you still have to use vouchers, contact the transit agency you use TL and ask if their main ticket office will accept the vouchers in exchange for TL products or e-cash. I know for sure the vouchers are accepted for TL media at the AC Transit ticket office.

  • cowface03

    DONT DO TRANSLINK!!!! I was told to get a Translink card by a flyer I received at the Montgomery St station. I bought a $5 card at a Walgreens. It worked on the T several times but one day I got on and must’ve swiped it 10xs and it didnt work. I did not have cash at the time (who needs it when you have this nifty card) and decided not to jump off the MUNI in order to find an ATM in the industrial part of 3rd Street (closest ATM is 7 blocks), make change, wait for another card and be 30-45 minutes late for work. But when I got to the Montgomery street station, cops were checking for proof of payment. I thought maybe the cops would be reasonable but NOPE. I was given a $75 ticket even though I clearly pay every time and this incident was out of my control. I will contest that since it was clear that the card had become defective by no fault of my own. But still, $75 is not something I can afford. So I called Translink customer service expecting some sort of apology but no. I have to send back the card to Fremont so they can determine if the card is defective. In the meantime, I have to pay $4 a day to ride MUNI, while the money I have already budgeted toward transportation in stuck on a card being sent to Translink. I asked for a refund because I cant afford for this to happen again. They wont issue a refund. But what if I want to go back to my trusty Fast Pass.too bad.
    So, ladies and gentlemenlets tally up the costs:
    $5 translink card + $55 balance on the card + $75 citation + $.47 stamp to send card back + $22 in fares while waiting for the Translink card to be sent back to me = $157.47. I budgeted $60 a month for transportation. Who is going to pay the extra $97.47? Oh right, me. Thanks SFMTA/Translink for sticking it to the working person.

  • cowface03

    DONT DO TRANSLINK!!!! I was told to get a Translink card by a flyer I received at the Montgomery St station. I bought a $5 card at a Walgreens. It worked on the T several times but one day I got on and must’ve swiped it 10xs and it didnt work. I did not have cash at the time (who needs it when you have this nifty card) and decided not to jump off the MUNI in order to find an ATM in the industrial part of 3rd Street (closest ATM is 7 blocks), make change, wait for another card and be 30-45 minutes late for work. But when I got to the Montgomery street station, cops were checking for proof of payment. I thought maybe the cops would be reasonable but NOPE. I was given a $75 ticket even though I clearly pay every time and this incident was out of my control. I will contest that since it was clear that the card had become defective by no fault of my own. But still, $75 is not something I can afford. So I called Translink customer service expecting some sort of apology but no. I have to send back the card to Fremont so they can determine if the card is defective. In the meantime, I have to pay $4 a day to ride MUNI, while the money I have already budgeted toward transportation in stuck on a card being sent to Translink. I asked for a refund because I cant afford for this to happen again. They wont issue a refund. But what if I want to go back to my trusty Fast Pass.too bad.
    So, ladies and gentlemenlets tally up the costs:
    $5 translink card + $55 balance on the card + $75 citation + $.47 stamp to send card back + $22 in fares while waiting for the Translink card to be sent back to me = $157.47. I budgeted $60 a month for transportation. Who is going to pay the extra $97.47? Oh right, me. Thanks SFMTA/Translink for sticking it to the working person.